MARIETTA - Forget lining up for Thanksgiving leftovers. Thursday evening, eager shoppers were lining up for deals, getting a head start on the biggest shopping day of the year.
Some, like sisters Lindsey Vickers and Chelsea Worstell, had been anticipating the frenzied overnighter for longer than others.
"Chelsea and I have been plotting since June. That's when we set up our babysitting," said Vickers as she waited for another round of door busters at Marietta Wal-Mart Thursday evening.
Photo by Jasmine Rogers
Hundreds of eager shoppers wait outside of Marietta Kmart Thursday evening for a round of door busters set to begin at 8 p.m. Several stores opened their doors Thursday evening this year, giving consumers an even earlier jump on Black Friday shopping.
Vickers planned to shop through the night and into Friday morning, when she would ring in her 30th birthday.
"It's the best birthday shopping ever," she said.
Having spent the past four Black Fridays in a similar fashion, Vickers, a Marietta resident, and 22-year-old Worstell, of Columbus, are no newcomers when it comes to hunting for deals.
* Annual Marietta Christmas Parade, featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus - Today 1 p.m., Front and Second streets
* Raising Cane Grand Illumination Ceremony, lighting ceremony for new downtown Marietta decorations - today 5:45 p.m., 132 Putnam St.
* Small Business Saturday, goal is to support small, independently owned businesses; all day today, downtown Marietta and Harmar Village
* Annual Beverly-Waterford Christmas Parade and Dodge Park lighting ceremony, free refreshments, canned food donations welcome - Sunday, parade starts at 5:30 at Waterford High School and ends at Dodge Park for the lighting ceremony
"It's not as good as years past," added Worstell, who did not like the new door buster format that had Wal-Mart shoppers waiting for DVD deals in the milk aisle and vacuum cleaners in the sporting goods section.
To combat the confusion, Wal-Mart shoppers walked around with maps of the store, showing them where and when different products would be on sale.
At Marietta Kmart, which closed at 4 p.m. Thursday, customers lined up around the building in anticipation of the stores 8 p.m. reopening. Two big television deals drew shoppers in, but not everyone was happy with the results.
"They said they passed out tickets," said Marietta resident Randy Oliver, who had waited in line since 6 p.m. Thursday to take advantage of one of the television bargains.
Oliver and his family managed to snag a 24 inch LED television, but without one of the seven tickets handed out in line outside the store, they did not get the sale price on it.
"We're disappointed. We weren't that far back in line," he said.
But maps and tickets did not leave everyone in the lurch.
"Best Black Friday ever," said Dan Postlethwait, 28, of Caldwell, as he wheeled his 50 inch LCD television to the car.
Postlethwait said he actually appreciated the ticketing method at Kmart because it saved shoppers from stampeding for the electronics section once inside.
"It saved all that commotion," he said.
Though certain deals tended to draw large crowds Thursday and Friday, not everyone was shopping for specific items.
"I'm here to buy stuff. I just don't know what yet," said 21-year-old Kelly Moats as she browsed at Wal-Mart near midnight Friday.
Mother and daughter shoppers Laura Nottingham, 43, and Marisa Devlay, 12, had a similarly laid-back attitude at Kmart.
"It's easier when you're not after something specific. We sort of just take it easy," said Nottingham.
Added Devlay, "I like shopping, but people are crazy."
Marietta resident Craig Nichols and his nephew Christopher Becker, 31, of Devola, found a cozy way to avoid the craziness while shopping at Wal-Mart.
Comfortably seated on an end cap stuffed with furry comforters, Nichols said the he would have gladly stayed home if not on a mission for a particular deal.
"But it's nice seeing people you know. There's a lot of people out," said Nichols.
Typically Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, the day when retailers begin to turn a profit or go "into the black". However, the retail holiday's slow creep into Thursday became ever more apparent
Last year, only a handful of stores opened at midnight at the Grand Central Mall in Vienna. This year that number was well over half, said the mall's specialty leasing manager, Janet Spoerer.
"Almost the entire mall," she said.
The burst of early shopping slowed down in the pre-dawn hours and was just picking back up around noon Friday, Spoerer added.
Kmart manager Lori Posey also noted Friday morning that it had calmed down significantly since the Thursday evening rush.
"It was nuts, but it was a good nuts," said Posey.
The store closed at 3 a.m. Friday and reopened with a final set of sales at 5 a.m., but the last round of door busters drew less of a crowd than Thursday's 8 p.m. round, noted Posey.
This year's Thursday sales bump and Friday morning drop off could have an impact on retailers' actual Friday profits.
"Thursday went extremely well. However, it impacted our sales today in a negative way," said Peebles manager Summer Mason Friday morning.
Still, said Mason, more customers than ever were waiting for Thursday's 8 p.m. opening.
"We had a total of 78 people waiting for us at the front door which is the most people we've had come through," she said.